How do I protect myself from my mother spending too much money?

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I have DPOA for my mother who has 1st stages of dementia. She has given me this resposibility willingly and was lucid. She has not been deemed incompitant, but has been letting me take care of her finances, paying bills, balancing her check book, etc. because she has admitted she can no longer do it. She still has accsess to her accounts, she is not too far gone to spend money. She asked me to take her to the bank to withdraw some cash because she likes using cash, I stayed in the car to keep it running in cool. She told me she was withdrawing $1,000. I realized a few days later she was spending more than that. I went online to check her account and she had withdrawn $10,000! I'm sure it was an accident as now they make you use your debit card at the counter. The problem is, she's hiding it from me for some reason, I'm having trouble keeping track of what she spends and gives away and it wiped out a big part of her savings. I'm fearful I'll get accused of taking it or forcing her into taking it. She's been difficult for me to handle and has already tried to make me look bad for "robbing her of her freedom". I have no one else who will take care of her, they don't want the responsibility. I don't want to go to jail if she decides to act like she doesn't know where the money is. She already lies and steals (mostly from family members, mostly minor stuff) and I'm worried. She's not sick enough for a home, yet. Please don't advise me to see a lawyer as I can't afford one. Thanks for any advise.

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I'm so glad for you, rocketbaby.
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Way to go, Rocketbaby! It is all about using your imagination and creativity to try to stay one step ahead of them. As stupid as this sounds, my husband and I try to turn it into a silly game at our house. He's a cop and he teases me constantly about how I run a tight prison system. He's even given our pets inmate names and used jargon like 'area secured, ma'am' because of all the safety measures I have in place. I suppose you must run a tight institution, just like Alzheimer units do!!!
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THANK GOD I was able to get her to agree to give most of it back to me when she was lucid today. I locked it in my fire safe until the bank opens. I explained to her if she spent all of her savings I wouldn't be able to take care of her at home and that put some fear into her. She "lost" her purse for about an hour and while we were looking for it I explained to her lost cash wasn't traceable like a lost card or checkbook and we couldn't report it lost to the bank. Whe we finally "found" her purse she willingly turned most of the cash over. I'm finding out ways to deal with her as time goes by.
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Hehehe NancyH - aren't we all!
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I love spending money now, so I'm DOOMED if I ever get dementia. Oh my gosh!!
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I am in pretty much the same situation. I simply removed my FIL's debit card from his wallet - and switched it with a low available balance credit card so if he does try to use it he can't spend more then $500. I make excuses about getting a new ATM. I never take him to the bank because I'm just "too busy" when they are open.
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All the more reason you need to step up and do what you were appointed by her to do -- manage her finances. Sitting in the car while she withdraws cash ain't gonna get the job done. And even $1,000 in cash play money seems inappropriate for a person with dementia who admits she can't manage her own finances. What on earth does she need that kind of cash for, when you are paying her bills?

She's hiding it from you because she has dementia. Expecting reasonable behavior is just not reasonable!

My heart goes out to you. Mother is difficult to handle. You are in over your head. Half her savings are gone, with no paper trail of what she did with it, which may have some consequence if you later need to get her qualified for Medicaid. (Let us hope you can find most of it.)

In my opinion, you need professional help straightening out the $10,000 mess and in arranging things so it can't happen again. You need professional help getting mother positioned well for her future needs. I don't see how you can afford not to do get this professional help ... it is part of helping your mother manage her money. It needs to be done.

What is robbing your mother of her freedeom and robbing you of your peace of mind, is a cruel, cruel disease that is only going to get worse over time. It is Not Your Fault! It is not Mother's fault. My heart aches for all of us caregivers who are thrust into reversed roles, where we now have to make decisions for parents or spouses who were just recently able to make their own decisions. Very, very sad.
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That's the point, she really can't afford it, it was half of her savings.
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If your mother can afford to withdraw $10,000 in cash as play money, she can afford for you to have a legal consultation to set this power of attorney relationship on a healthy footing. You are doing this on her behalf. Her funds should pay for it.

Just do it.
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